North Central in the third round of the NCAA Division III playoffs for the third time in program history. The Cardinals lost to UW-Whitewater in 2010 and beat Bethel in 2013. This go-around, NCC gets Delaware Valley at home with a chance to advance to the semis. DelVal has the second-best defense in the country behind Wheaton.
Opening quarter and North Central has scored points on its first possession in 12 straight games… but that streak is halted, as the Aggies stand tall and force a punt.
Problem for Delval is: North Central defense is looking crisp too. After allowing just 14 second-half points to Mount Union, NCC keeps up the momentum – turning away the Aggies on their first drive.
Next drive for North Central… and cue the Andrew Kamienski sirens. The nation’s top receiver snags his first pass and picks up a new set of downs.
To finish the drive? 28th total touchdown for Ethan Greenfield.
After the Cardinal defense blanks the Aggies again – Broc Rutter finding DeAngelo Hardy over the middle, as the freshman makes a spectacular double-clutch grab.
Than, Rutter to going back to number 6… Cardinals up 14-0.
Defense still looking stout. On first down, the Aggies looks to go to a bubble screen, but Jake Beesley blows up the play… and then he goes ahead and jars the ball loose. DelVal recovers though.
Aggies boast one of the best defensive lines in the country – and showing it off to begin the second quarter. Anthony Nobile nabs his second sack on the possession – Cardinals punt again.
Cardinals defense also looking to schedule a meeting with the quarterback.
After North Central turns the ball over on downs at the 48, Delaware Valley takes over and looks to hit big – but no jackpot. Instead… a bust. Dakota Cremeens with the interception, his second of the season… and his return comes all the way out to the 43 yard line.
Cardinals tacking on a field goal, courtesy of Magnus Meyer from 22 yards out… but then, on the ensuing kick, Rashiek Harvard breaks lose… and it looks like he might find paydirt… except Butler nips the heel and down he goes. Big, because… two plays later….
Cardinals lead 17-0 at the half.
To open up the third, the Aggies finding success on offense – Anthony Fontana hands to Donte Simmons and he’s zipping around the Cardinal defense. Pickup of 24 yard.
Which sets up… this.
So, the Cardinal offense looking to respond – except, the unexpected happens – an extremely rare drop by Andrew Kamienski bounces into the hands of the Aggies. Ryan Barrett with the pick. DelVal in business.
Can the Aggies take advantage of the sudden change? Well, Fontana is going to his big target, Dan Allen, down the sideline. And the pass fools both Allen and Beesley, but Allen adjusts and he’s going the distance… 85 yards and it’s just a 3 point game!
Cardinals then march 73 yards in 9 plays over 4 and a half minutes – ending with this.
To start the fourth, Delaware Valley is marching and the Aggies are going back to the play that netted them a touchdown… except this time. They cough it up! And the Cardinals pounce. Beesley forcing his second fumble of the day.
10 minutes and no scores later, Cardinals looking to put it away.
On the following drive, Fontana gets pressure from Cam Martin – and the throw falls incomplete – Cardinals are moving on to the semi-finals and will face Muhlenberg for the right to play in the Stagg Bowl.